What does it mean to be a good patient?

At some point in my travels I came across an article by a woman with breast cancer who discussed the idea of compliance. I’ve been reflecting on this idea and the question of what makes a good patient.

Of course as a doctor, you probably hope that your patient is going to follow through with recommended treatment and take the medicine when and how they are supposed to. But what about when you want a second opinion. What about doing research? What about changing doctors when you’re stuck with a jerk? What about asking for a specific nurse who you know won’t hurt you as much at the chemo unit?

My family is full of doctors and I know they face challenges from patients who are always questioning them based on superficial research from questionable websites. I’m sure they have patients who don’t take the meds and then complain when the symptoms do not go away. I know I was resistant to new medication several times in my career as a patient.

What is being savvy and acting as your own advocate? What is being difficult and taking up too much of the doctor’s time? When are you acting as your own best advocate and when are you just being pushy? When do you need to question and research and when do you just need to trust your doctor? When do you need to just go along for the ride, and when do you define your own terms?

Much probably depends on personalities and circumstances. I know that my ability to advocate for myself (with a little help from the doctors in my family) has been very important over the last 12 years. Are there times when I have crossed the line?  Maybe, maybe not. Perhaps it depends on whether you ask the patient or the doctor?


Submission guidelines for the project coming this week – no fooling this time!

The movie 50/50 is out to rave reviews. Please comment if you’ve seen it.



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